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The General's Daughter (1992)
For all of the oceans of ink spilled on serious criticism and Top 100 lists, there's still something viscerally satisfying about a good straightforward read like The General's Daughter. After all, if it weren't for fare like this, what would we do for beach & airplane books? Luckily there are guys like Nelson DeMille cranking them out. DeMille, who won a Bronze Star in Viet Nam, has written a couple of excellent books, I especially liked By the Rivers of Babylon and Cathedral, though I've read some others that I didn't like as much. I'd recommend this one.
General's Daughter opens with Captain Ann Campbell, a West Point honors graduate and daughter of the general of the base, staked out, raped and strangled in an artillery field. Wisecracking investigator Paul Brenner of the Criminal Investigation Division and rape specialist Cynthia Sunhill, his former lover, team up to solve the crime. Turns out the General's daughter has a pretty sordid past, which makes just about every male at Fort Hadley a suspect. This profusion of suspects combines with normal Army red tape and extraordinary reticence about scandal, to form the basis of a briskly plotted procedural.
The solution to the mystery is pretty pedestrian and Brenner's a little too much of a wise guy, but the story hums along and DeMille does us all a favor by not piling on multiple melodramatic conclusions. He tells his story and then wraps it up neatly. The one thing I really liked was Brenner's righteous indignation at the despicable conduct of his Army brethren. At least in this novel, the sense of military honor is not dead.
Accept this novel on its own terms and you'll enjoy it.
-Nelson DeMille's Viet Nam: the author returns to the scene of the Tet Offensive (Mungo Park)
-INTERVIEW: Nelson DeMille (January Magazine)
-Story about filming the movie: 'Dancin' Travolta steps into Madison Square (Doug Gross, Savannah Morning News)
-REVIEW: of Plum Island Bestseller Hell (Salon)
-REVIEW: of Plum Island Wisecracking All the Way (John Katzenbach, Washington Post)